An outsider looking in might wonder what is taking e-prescribing so long to get going. Doctors communicating with pharmacies via the Internet is faster, more accurate and more efficient for all involved. But the medical community is slow to change, pharmacy executives told SN.
The time has finally come, they said, and e-prescriptions may be a major trend by the end of the year, and an accepted way of doing business within a few years.
“Everybody has to get to the same level of technology,” said Donald Clark, vice president, pharmacy operations, K-VA-T Food Stores, Abingdon, Va. “Pharmacy has been able to handle e-prescriptions for several years, but it has just been in the last couple of years that the medical side has had systems to allow them to do it.”
It will take a little more time to synchronize technologies, he said. “When it works, it's wonderful.”
In the course of converting 78 former Albertsons pharmacies to Save Mart banners, the computer systems have been changed, and e-prescribing capabilities are now rolling out, said Michele Snider, senior director of pharmacy, Save Mart Supermarkets, Modesto, Calif. “It's definitely a no-brainer, especially for refills and saving the doctors money,” she said.
“It's going to be the standard in the industry. In one or two years, if you are not e-prescribing, you're not going to remain in business,” she said.
“It's a major behavioral paradigm shift for pharmacists and physicians, but mostly for physicians,” said John Beckner, director, pharmacy and health services, Ukrop's Super Markets, Richmond, Va. “E-prescribing is a great opportunity to be more efficient, both on the doctor's end and for the pharmacy. It's an opportunity to really step up our game with patient safety,” he said.
Dan Milovich, vice president of pharmacy operations, Bashas', Chandler, Ariz., predicted e-prescribing will be widespread in the next two years. “It's not happening now because doctors are having a hard time with who is going to pay for the system,” as well as internal office issues relating to how to handle e-scripts.
“It's taken a long time to get here, but I think the momentum is there now and it is just going to continue,” he said.
“Our pharmacies are ready,” said Greg Jones, director of pharmacy, Harmon City, West Valley City, Utah. “If doctors are ready to e-prescribe, we'll take their prescriptions. It's a no-brainer. The way technology is going, eventually a handwritten prescription just won't make sense,” he said.
“Change is hard when you have an office practice and certain ways of doing things,” said John Fegan, vice president, pharmacy, Winn-Dixie Stores, Jacksonville, Fla. “That's why we're trying to show the benefits of e-prescribing and translate it into controlling costs, improving efficiencies and improving safety.”
It's a matter of convincing doctors that e-prescribing is the right approach, said Randy Heiser, vice president, pharmacy, Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh. “All the pharmacies are ready to go. Until someone — maybe on the health plan side — forces them to do it, I'm not sure it's going to go any faster than it has in the last couple of years.”
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Baltimore, is pushing e-prescriptions, noted Ron Peters, vice president of pharmacy operations, Minyard Food Stores, Coppell, Texas. “They want e-prescribing out there for various reasons: safety for the patient, accuracy, and it is very convenient.”